Edward Snowden Stories July 21, 2016

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We know Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg relies on good old-fashioned tape to disable his MacBook’s mic and camera, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is working on something a little more sophisticated to stop your iPhone from snooping. It’s a protective case not aimed at preventing damage from drops and tumbles but instead spying and snooping…

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Edward Snowden Stories March 29, 2016

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While the FBI has successfully accessed the data on the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino shootings, and the court battle is over for now, the government says that it may not accede to Apple’s demand to be told the method used.

The White House said back in 2014 that the government would consider the pros and cons of disclosing vulnerabilities discovered by its various law enforcement agencies. ArsTechnica asked whether the FBI would reveal the method used in this case, and was told that it wasn’t saying one way or the other …

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Edward Snowden Stories March 9, 2016

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We said yesterday that the war of words on the Apple/FBI dispute were hotting up, and Edward Snowden has now taken things a step further, suggesting that the FBI’s claims that they need Apple to access the iPhone are … not true. His comments were reported by The Intercept, which posted video of the discussion at a civil liberties conference.

“The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’” to unlock the phone, Snowden said during a discussion at Common Cause’s Blueprint for Democracy conference.

“Respectfully, that’s bullsh*t,” he said, over a video link from Moscow.

Snowden had earlier described how the FBI could physically extract the passcode from the iPhone chip, and has now linked to an explanation of how the agency could bypass the auto-erase feature …

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Edward Snowden Stories February 22, 2016

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Edward Snowden describes how the FBI could physically extract passcode from iPhone chip without Apple’s help

With Apple calling on the government to withdraw its demand that the company create a tool to unlock the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, it seems the FBI does have a plan B – albeit a long-winded and highly uncertain one. Edward Snowden says that FBI claims that it cannot access the phone without Apple’s help are not quite true.

“The problem is, the FBI has other means… They told the courts they didn’t, but they do,” Snowden said during a virtual talk hosted by Johns Hopkins University. “The FBI does not want to do this.”

The technique Snowden described is known as chip de-capping, and involves physically attacking the chip in order to probe its contents. Four cyber security researchers contacted by ABC News confirmed that the technique is real, but far from certain to succeed …

Edward Snowden Stories February 18, 2016

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Civil rights organizations have expressed strong support for Apple’s resistance to a court order instructing it to create special firmware that would allow the FBI to break into an iPhone – with tech companies doing the same, albeit in a weaker fashion.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posted a statement in which it said that it applauded Apple for standing up for the rights of its customers, and would be making its views known to the court.

Essentially, the government is asking Apple to create a master key so that it can open a single phone. And once that master key is created, we’re certain that our government will ask for it again and again, for other phones, and turn this power against any software or device that has the audacity to offer strong security […]

EFF applauds Apple for standing up for real security and the rights of its customers. We have been fighting to protect encryption, and stop backdoors, for over 20 years. That’s why EFF plans to file an amicus brief in support of Apple’s position.

The Verge notes similar support from both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Amnesty International …

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Edward Snowden Stories May 19, 2015

Apple among those asking Obama to reject calls for government access to encrypted data

Apple and Google have co-signed a letter calling on President Obama to reject any government proposal to allow the government backdoor access to encrypted data on smartphones and other devices. The Washington Post says the letter, due to be delivered today, is signed by more than 140 tech companies, prominent technologists and civil society groups.

The signatories urge Obama to follow the group’s unanimous recommendation that the government should “fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards” and not “in any way subvert, undermine, weaken or make vulnerable” commercial software.

Apple uses end-to-end encryption for iMessages, meaning that Apple has no way to access the data even if presented with a court order. Tim Cook stated last year “it’s encrypted, and we don’t have the key.”

The FBI has been pushing increasingly hard to require tech companies to build in backdoor access to their encryption systems to allow access by law enforcement, even going so far as to say that Apple could be responsible for the death of a child. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has also cited child safety as a justification for demanding access to encrypted data.

The letter calling on Obama to reject this argument is also signed by five members of a presidential review group appointed by Obama in 2013 to assess technology policies in the wake of leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Many in the tech industry have pointed out that, aside from the obvious concerns over government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens, any backdoor used by the government could potentially be discovered and exploited by hackers and foreign governments.

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